Why reuse damaged books?

When a book is damaged, it can break a book lover’s heart. Broken spines, torn pages, rippling (a tell-tale sign of water damage), the scribbles of an unattended child or corners so dog-eared that they’ve fallen off—all these things may mean a book has not been well cared for.

Whether it’s a well-loved book or one found at a yard sale or second hand store, the dilemma becomes, what to do with it?

If a book is in a state that makes it unreadable, many people send it to the landfill, but I like to give books a chance at reincarnation—the opportunity to start over again as something new, something creative, something beautiful or something useful.

Here are just a few ways you can recycle damaged books.

1. Make a Secret Hollow Book
This is my favorite way to give a book new life, and I’ve made one for each of my sons as well as my husband. This project takes a hardbound book and carves away the pages on the inside, while leaving the outside intact, creating a hollow area. It is great for keeping valuables. Just stash your things inside, put it on the shelf amongst other books, and no one will be the wiser!

For the secret hollow book, you’ll need an X-ACTO knife or razor blade, along with a few other supplies crafty people usually already have on hand. It takes some patience to hollow the book out neatly, but the end result is super awesome. You can check out this tutorial on Instructables.
Crafting Level: Intermediate

2. Create Framed Art
This one is easy and has endless possibilities. Cut a page from the book and then use it as a background for a drawing or a collage. This can look really stunning in a nice frame.
Crafting Level: Beginner

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3. Make a Planter
Have a little potted plant on a side table that needs a whimsical home? Two books glued together and then drilled through with a 3” diameter drill bit will do the trick. More detailed instructions can be found at Apartment Therapy.
Crafting Level: Intermediate

4. Use the Pages as Gift Wrap
The pages from a book can make really lovely gift wrapping for a present (perhaps for a new book?)… Just cut them out and use as you would regular gift wrap. The finishing touch? Choose a silky ribbon and tie a bow, or keep it simple with white string, parcel-style.
Crafting Level: Beginner

5. Make a Handbag
There are various tutorials online, including this video tutorial on YouTube from Curbly that will help you make a little purse out of your book. This craft requires a sewing machine and quite a bit of crafting skill.
Crafting Level: Advanced

6. Make an E-Book Reader Cover
Do you miss the feel of a real book in your hands while reading an e-book? Well, now you can cover up your Kindle or Nook with this craft from Popsci.
Crafting Level: Intermediate

Still feeling crafty? Lucky you, because there are dozens of crafts to be made with damaged books. Search the internet for “recycled book” or “upcycled book,” and you’ll find many more possible projects.

Please remember, all these crafts are for already damaged books. We don’t encourage anyone to destroy books in good condition! Not the crafty type? Consider giving your damaged books to a friend who can make use of them by turning them into something awesome—maybe they’ll even create something for you!